Thanks to the Weekly and Elena Kadvany for her May 10 story on the housing challenges that community-college students face. While AB 302, proposed by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, is acknowledged as a stopgap response to the student housing problem, there is another bill that could help in a more consequential way by providing low-income community college students with financial support to help with food and shelter.
Senate Bill 291, the California Community College Financial Aid Program proposed by State Sen. Connie M. Leyva, D-Chino, would base financial aid not only on the cost of tuition but on the total cost of attendance, including housing, food, transportation and textbooks. It would put financial aid directly into the hands of low-income students and eliminate a longstanding disparity in the financial aid that community-college students receive. Unlike AB 302, which most likely would redirect funding away from core college operations, SB 291 proposes to augment existing funding.
In many parts of California, including here, the true cost of attending community college is higher than for students at a nearby California State University or University of California campus, in part because Cal Grants for community-college students are small and limited. In fact, the majority of community-college students are effectively excluded from receiving any Cal Grant aid at all.
Only 5% of community-college students received a Cal Grant last year, compared to nearly 40% of undergraduates in the UC system and approximately 36% of students in the CSU system, according to Leyva. California community colleges enroll about two-thirds of the state's undergraduate students, yet they received only 7% of Cal Grant funds.
The Foothill-De Anza Community College District has joined the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Community College League of California in advocating for the passage of SB 291.
Judy Miner, chancellor
El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
I am a progressive, liberal, active environmentalist, housing advocate and parks' supporter, but I am not for Foothills Park being opened to non-Palo Alto residents for the following reasons:
1) Other communities refused to support the bond issuance and told Palo Alto to go it alone, and we did.
2) The park is successful because of the relatively low footprint of visitors, making it a place for bird watching, admiring wild flowers, nature walks and enjoying the beauty of the area.
3) To do otherwise would be another example of short-sightedness. Palo Alto has only become "exclusive" in its housing context because of the anti-housing group of newbies who denied the increase of affordable housing on Maybell and in other areas.
Let's work to keep Palo Alto economically integrated and not environmentally ruined.
Alice Schaffer Smith
Webster Street, Palo Alto
Quote befitting Stanford deal
To both Stanford and the Board of Education, the following seems appropriate: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." —Walter Scott.
E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto
This story contains 487 words.
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